Führer Directive 18

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12 Nov 1940

The Führer and Supreme Commander
of the Armed Forces
Führer Headquarters,
12th November 1940.
10 copies

Directive No. 18

The preparatory measures of the High Command for the conduct of the war in the near future will be made on the following lines :

  1. Relations with France.

    The aim of my policy towards France is to co-operate with that country in the most effective manner possible for the future conduct of the war against England. For the present France will assume the role of a 'non-belligerent power' and will thus be required to allow German war measures on French territory and particularly in the African colonies. She will also be required to support these measures with her own forces as far as may be necessary. The most urgent duty of the French is to secure their African possessions (West and Equatorial Africa), offensively and defensively, against England and the de Gaulle movement. From this the full participation of France in the war against England may develop.

    The conversations with France begun at my meeting with Marshal Pétain will, apart from the day-to-day work of the Armistice Commission, be carried out exclusively by the Foreign Office, in liaison with the High Command of the Armed Forces.

    Further instructions will be issued when these conversations are concluded.
  2. Spain and Portugal.

    Political measures to bring about the entry into the war of Spain in the near future have already been initiated. The aim of German intervention in the Iberian peninsula (cover-name 'Felix') will be to drive the English from the Western Mediterranean. To this end-
    1. Gibraltar is to be captured and the Straits closed.
    2. The English are to be prevented from gaining a footing at any other point on the Iberian peninsula or in the Atlantic Islands.
    The preparation and execution of this operation is planned as follows :

    1. Reconnaissance parties (officers in plain clothes) will draw up the necessary plans for action against Gibraltar and for the capture of airfields. With regard to cover and collaboration with the Spaniards they will conform with the security measures of the Chief, Armed Forces Intelligence Division [Ausland Abwehr].
    2. Special detachments of the Armed Forces Intelligence Division, in secret collaboration with the Spaniards, will undertake to secure the Gibraltar area against any attempts by the English to enlarge the area they control or to discover and interfere prematurely with our preparations.
    3. Formations detailed for the operation will be concentrated at a considerable distance from the Franco-Spanish frontier and without previous briefing of troops. Three weeks before troops are timed to cross the Spanish-French frontier (and after the conclusion of preparations for the occupation of the Atlantic Islands) a warning order will be issued.

      In view of the low capacity of Spanish railways the Army will detail chiefly motorised formations for this operation, so that the railways are available for supplies.
    1. Units of the Air Force, summoned through observation in the Algeciras area, will set out from French bases and make a well-timed air attack on English naval forces in Gibraltar harbour. After the attack they will land in Spanish airports.
    2. Shortly after this attack units detailed for operations in Spain will cross or fly over the Franco-Spanish frontier.
    1. An attack will be made with German troops to seize Gibraltar.
    2. Forces will be made ready to invade Portugal should the English gain a footing there. Formations detailed for this purpose will enter Spain immediately behind the forces intended for Gibraltar.

    After the capture of the Rock, the Spaniards will be assisted to close the Straits ; if necessary, from Spanish Morocco also.

    The strength of the formations destined for 'Operation Felix' will be as follows:Army.

    Formations detailed for Gibraltar must be strong enough to capture the Rock even without Spanish support.

    A smaller force must also be available to support the Spaniards in the improbable event of an attempted English landing on another part of the coast.

    Motorised forces will be employed in the main for a possible invasion of Portugal.

    Air Force.

    The forces detailed for the attack on Gibraltar harbour must be sufficient to ensure a resounding success.

    Dive-bomber units, in particular, are to be transferred to Spain to engage naval targets and to support the attack on the Rock.

    Army formations will be allotted sufficient anti-aircraft artillery to allow them to engage targets on the ground also.


    Submarines will be used to engage the English Gibraltar squadron, particularly when it leaves harbour, as is likely after the attack.

    To support the Spaniards in closing the Straits, preparations are to be made, in conjunction with the Army, to bring over single coastal batteries.

    Italian participation in the operation is not expected.
    The Atlantic Islands (especially the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands) will assume additional naval importance after the operations against Gibraltar, both for the English and for ourselves. Commanders-in-Chief Navy and Air Force are to consider the best means of supporting the defence of the Canaries by the Spaniards and the occupation of the Cape Verde Islands.

    I also request that the problem of occupying Madeira and the Azores should be considered, together with the advantages and disadvantages which this would entail for our sea and air warfare. The results of these investigations are to be submitted to me as soon as possible.
  3. Italian offensive against Egypt.

    The employment of German forces will be considered, if at all, only after the Italians have reached Mersa Matruh. But even then, the use of German air units will only be considered if the Italians will provide the necessary air bases.

    The preparations of the Armed Services for operations in this theatre or in any other North African theatre of war will be made on the following basis:

    Army: One Armoured Division (composition as already laid down) will stand by for service in North Africa.

    Navy: German ships in Italian ports which are suitable as troopships will be converted to carry the largest possible forces either to Libya or to North-west Africa.

    Air Force: Plans will be made for attacks on Alexandria and on the Suez Caml to close it to English warships.
  4. The Balkans.

    Commander-in-Chief Army will be prepared, if necessary, to occupy from Bulgaria the Greek mainland north of the Aegean Sea. This will enable the German Air Force to attack targets in the Eastern Mediterranean, and in particular those English air bases which threaten the Rumanian oilfields.

    In order to be capable of fulfilling all tasks, and to keep Turkey in check, planning and march tables will assume the employment of an Army Group in a strength of about ten divisions. The use of the railway line running through Yugoslavia will not be assumed in planning the movement of these forces. In order to reduce the time required for the movement, the German Military Mission in Rumania will be shortly reinforced to an extent about which I require advice.

    In conjunction with the proposed land operations, Commander-in-Chief Air Force will prepare to post air force units to the Southeastern Balkans and to set up an Air Force Signal Service on the southern frontier of Bulgaria.

    The German Air Force Mission in Rumania will be reinforced to the extent proposed to me.

    Requests by Bulgaria for equipment for its army (weapons and ammunition) will be met sympathetically.
  5. Russia.

    Political discussions for the purpose of clarifying Russia's attitude in the immediate future have already begun. Regardless of the outcome of these conversations, all preparations for the East for which verbal orders have already been given will be continued.

    Further directives will follow on this subject as soon as the basic operational plan of the Army has been submitted to me and approved.
  6. Landing in England.

    Since changes in the general situation may make it possible, or necessary, to revert to 'Operation Sea-Lion' in the spring of 1941, the three branches of the Armed Forces will make every effort to improve in every way the conditions for such an operation.
  7. I await reports from Commanders-in-Chief on the operations laid down in this directive. I will then issue orders on. the manner of execution and the timing of individual operations.

In the interests of security, special measures are to be taken to limit the number of those working on these plans. This applies particularly to the undertaking in Spain and to the plans relating to the Atlantic Islands.



Added By:
C. Peter Chen

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